A Bewitched Church

5 There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, as an error which proceedeth from the ruler:

6 Folly is set in great dignity, and the rich sit in low place.

7 I have seen servants upon horses, and princes walking as servants upon the earth. Ecc. 10:5-7

You may not understand what the Preacher was alluding to here; but then, everything in the Bible points us to Christ.

In my country, I have heard many stories of witchcraft. But probably the most startling aspect of this trade, according to the stories I have heard, is how these witches and wizards enter a victim’s house. They enter backwards. Apparently, the door cannot open “abracadabra” unless it is knocked upon with the buttocks. So the witches enter houses back to back and after that they are able to bewitch their victims.

The true sign that God’s people have been bewitched is when they begin to do things back to back. They do not know the right way to go about doing things in God’s Kingdom. Priorities are overturned and trivialities are given the places of importance. The Apostle Paul, astounded at this state of affairs with the Galatians, berates them in Galatians 3:1 with similar words:

“O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you…”

When we begin seeing things other than Christ crucified in the gospel, then we have been bewitched. We have, in effect, set folly in great dignity, and the rich in low places. And notice the Bible says that this is “as an error which proceedeth from the ruler”.

The Preacher calls this state of affairs “an evil”. But this evil “proceedeth from the ruler”. The ruler is us. We have been raised to sit in high places with Jesus; and when we fail to appreciate the spiritual nature of our calling, the Bible calls this an error, an evil, on our part.

Today, a majority of God’s people are running after the vanities of this world. They do not see the great spiritual riches that are ours through Jesus Christ. Such believers see the trivial material blessings of this world – but not the things that pertain to true life in the Spirit, which can only be obtained by denying ourselves and taking up our cross and following Christ. In the process, they die spiritually for trivialising the cross.

In Galatians 5:19-26, the Bible shows us the things that are of importance in the Spirit. The true spiritual riches – the things that really matter – is the fruit of the Spirit in our lives.

“19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26 Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.”

[Below: The Preacher was an exceedingly wise man. What do you see when you read God’s Word?]


The Preacher – A Man in Bonds

For which I am an ambassador in bonds… Eph. 6:20

The word “bonds” means chains. Why would God put Paul in chains?

There are two things that characterize a true man of God. By a man of God, we mean a person who represents God. That is what an ambassador is. A man of God is a person who characterizes Godliness.

The first thing that characterizes a man of God are his words. By his words I mean the Word of God that he speaks. Many preachers preach for preaching’s sake. Yes, they know the Word and they can expound on it. But skilfully expounding on scripture is hardly God’s Word. A preacher must preach what he has been sent to preach, not what he wants to preach. We cannot preach a message just because it sounds good to us. The Apostle Paul says:

“18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; 19 And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.” (Eph. 6:18-20)

Notice Paul asks the Ephesians to pray for him that he may be enabled to preach as he ought to preach, not what or how he wants to preach. That means that Paul was asking the Ephesians to pray that God would put His Word in Paul’s heart and mouth. It was not that Paul could not preach. I believe he could preach very well; moreover, he knew so much he could have preached the world to his hearers.

But Paul desired to do or speak nothing apart from what God had told him to do or speak. For God looks at His Word and His purpose to accomplish it. He does not look to accomplish the whims of man.

That is the first important thing that characterizes a man of God. He must be able to speak God’s Word as he has been sent to speak. He must not speak God’s Word just because he can speak it or because he wants to speak it.

When he speaks God’s Word according to God’s directions, his hearers will hear God’s voice and they will be edified. They will be warned, encouraged and given direction – all in the Spirit.

The second thing that characterizes a true man of God is His life. Our Lord Jesus Christ said,

“16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? 17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.” (Mat. 7:16-18)

Jesus is not talking about the preacher’s message here. He is now talking about a preacher’s life.

One of the most prominent tele-preachers and faith healers in our country, who has a huge following, was recently caught on video insulting and threatening to kill his neighbor. The neighbor is not saved. But, for a long time, he had kept chiding the pastor: “You are not fit to be a pastor!”

Without a doubt, the neighbor knew things about this pastor that many people, including this pastor’s congregation, did not know.

On this particular day, this pastor parked his car right in front of his neighbor’s gate, got out, and said, “This is your day!”

Someone was passing by and he recorded the whole saga – all the insults and the threats – on their cellphone. It is now all over social media.

The pastor was subsequently arrested and interrogated at the police station.

Now his loyal congregation is writing on social media: “Do not talk evil of the anointed man of God!”

But whether we are to heed Jesus’ words or peoples’ whims on social media is a choice we have to make on our own.

In a separate incident, a lady once visited my house and in the course of our conversation she told me about how her pastor had prayed for her to get healed from an ailment that had troubled her for a long time. She had in fact spent a lot of money in a private hospital trying to get treatment, but her condition only worsened.

“But”, she told me, “ever since the day that the pastor prayed over me, that condition ceased troubling me. I was set completely free.”

But she told me many other things about this pastor and the way he ran the church, things which brought only confusion to her spirit. In short, his character and behavior did not in the least reflect that of Christ.

The true man of God must live a life that conforms to that of Christ: a life where the flesh has been put to death and where Christ rules supreme in that man. The Bible says:

“2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; 3 Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; 4 One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; 5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) 6 Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7 Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. 8 Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; 9 Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.” (1 Tim. 3:2-9)

It is up to the church to choose whether to follow God’s guidelines in the running of its affairs or to respect men instead. Today, there are men in the church who are bigger than Christ Himself. But, in the true church, it is Christ, “the fulness of him that filleth all in all.” (Eph. 1:23)

For that to happen, the man of God must of necessity be put in chains by Christ. This is so he cannot do or speak his will, but Christ’s.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

A Time for Sound Doctrine

1 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;

2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.

3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;

4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. 2 Tim. 4:1-4

The Apostle Paul laid out this charge in the most serious manner he could to his young ward, Timothy, because in the Spirit he foresaw a time of great apostasy coming to the church. The Book of Timothy is there in the Bible because the Holy Spirit also foresaw our times and He knew that they would be exactly as they were to be during Timothy’s tenure of ministry.

There is an incredibly large number of fake “ministers of the Word” today. It is so clear that these men and women are false ministers of the gospel. Everyone can see it. Even a drunk seated at a bar can clearly tell that many ministers masquerading in church today are not true ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Everyone and everything in the world is screaming out aloud that there is something amiss within the church!

And yet, strange as it may seem, you will find genuine born-again believers seated in these same churches, watching and listening to these preachers. More extraordinarily, however, is that you will find these born-again believers enjoying themselves immensely in such churches.

Just to give an example, I recently saw on TV a young African preacher teaching that the gospel is a mystery. That sounded scriptural all right, so I sat down to listen. Then this young preacher started “doing things”. He began explaining that one way in which God is a mystery is that He can play with babies in their mothers’ tummies. And right there he began singing, “Holy Spirit, Holy Spirit…” – and immediately, all the pregnant women in that church began moving their tummies and waists in a decidedly obscene manner.

But the truly amazing thing is that although that church was packed to capacity with people whom you could gauge were of sound minds, yet not one of them stood up and did the least that anyone could have done in such a situation, which was to walk out. Instead, these people sat there and they clearly were enjoying the explicitly lewd show that was going on in their midst, laughing and cheering at the gyrating tummies..

I sat there and wondered: where is any of this in the Bible? And where did this young man come from?

But I probably shouldn’t have been so naïve, for the Bible expressly says that in the latter times God’s people “will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”

In other words, the Bible is saying that it is the people of God themselves who will bring in and egg on these preachers to do these kind of things, so they can “have a good time” in church.

The fact is, people today just love these kinds of things. They are not interested in whatever God calls the truth anymore. People – believers – today love their own selves more than they love God, and they are actually in church to pleasure their flesh. They go to church to satisfy the lusts of their own flesh, and their itching ears. And if an obscene act is carried out in church in the name of the gospel, so much the better!

But the Apostle Paul charges Timothy: “But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.” (v.5)

A carnal believer would never love affliction. Nor would he want to be engaged in any “watching”. No. The flesh loves the good life. It loves the soft life.

In other words, Paul was warning Timothy that in days to come, a literal tsunami of the flesh would descend upon the church and that therefore he, as a young preacher, ought to be prepared for this.

In the days that we are living, the words of the Apostle Paul concerning the church have proved to be doubly true. All the more reason for the true men of God to rise up and preach the true gospel, the gospel of the cross of Jesus Christ, without thinking of being too “politically correct” within a dying church.

[In the African savannah, the acacia tree is king!]


Of Worldly Wealth And God’s Kingdom – Part 2

And one of the company said unto him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me.

And he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you? Luke 12:13-14

In the days that we are living in the gospel of Jesus Christ has been compromised and today gain is thought to be godliness, as the Apostle Paul says in 1 Timothy 6:5. Paul called the people who advance these kinds of teachings “men of corrupt minds” and “from such”, he admonished Timothy, “withdraw thyself”.

Recently, on TV, a prominent preacher was praying over people who had various needs in his church. There were hundreds, probably thousands, each holding up a placard with their prayer requests written on them.

One man had a placard that read, “LAND CASE”, and when the preacher got to him, he placed his hands upon him and said to him, “You have won”. In other words, this preacher was telling this man, ‘by the word of the Lord’, that he had won a dispute over land.

Immediately I heard that, somehow I knew it was not right. There was no Biblical basis for what this preacher had just told this man. I would not contest the fact that he might have received a revelation concerning that man’s situation, but as far as I was concerned, his words or prophecy had to link up with scripture. And they didn’t.

But what disturbed me even more was the fact that this is a prominent preacher, whom millions of people from all over the world pay attention to. And he was doing or saying something that was completely contrary to the Word of God right on TV!

When we look at scripture, we see that Jesus’ approach to a similar situation is poles apart from this preacher’s. Contrary to this preacher, Jesus told His man that He did not come to be a ‘judge’ or a ‘divider’ of worldly possessions.

But what did Jesus mean then and what are the implications of His words for us today? Let us look at this scripture in some detail.

The first thing we notice is that this is the only scripture in the Bible where Jesus used the word “Man” to address a person; and notable still is the fact that He used this word in connection with worldly possessions. The conclusion we come to here is that someone whose heart is set on worldly possessions is a mere man. He is not a spiritual man. Spiritually speaking, that is a sick person and what he needs above all else is the healing of his heart.

To bring this into even clearer perspective, let us consider another place where the word ‘man’ is used in a similar fashion. Paul, speaking to the Corinthians, says, “For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?” 1 Cor. 3:3. Notice the connection between the words ‘men’ and ‘carnal’ here. The two go together.  They are allies. A carnal person is a worldly-minded person. He might be a Christian, but as long as his heart is set on the things of this world, the Bible calls him carnal. He is a man or woman in whom the works of the flesh are evident.

There is only one person in the world who is not carnal, and that is the spiritually-minded born-again believer, one whose affection is set on “things above, not on things on the earth” (Col.3:2). A spiritual person is no mere man.

Back to Jesus and His man. The claim of this man was acceptable in the natural, but in the Spirit, it pointed to a very big spiritual problem in this man’s heart. By addressing him “Man”, Jesus was telling him. ‘With your attitude, you are a mere man’. It is important we understand the sense in which Jesus addressed this man because, as we shall see, this is very relevant to the church at present.

The second thing we notice about this scripture is Jesus saying He was neither judge nor divider between a man and his brother. Who or what is a judge? A judge is a person who administers justice. He is an arbiter. This is the second important thing we need to keep in mind as we continue with our discussion. Since the matter in hand involved a familial inheritance, we can safely conclude that Jesus was telling this man that He did come to arbitrate on worldly possessions. We wouldn’t know whether what this man wanted Jesus to do was right or wrong until Jesus agreed or refused his request. And His answer was a ‘no’.

Lastly, let us consider Jesus’ words in verse 15: “Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth” (verse 15).

The words “consisteth not” say it all. Here Jesus was saying that the Life that God is giving us has nothing to do with worldly possessions. Whether you own the whole world, or whether you are so poor that even the shirt on your back is someone else’s property; none of these state of affairs has anything to do with the Kingdom of God that dwells in our hearts.

Now, remember that the Jews in Jesus’ day did not have the Holy Spirit in them and everything Jesus told them left them totally confused. They did not have the revelation of the Word. But we have the Holy Spirit, and we can understand clearly what God is saying. You see, Jesus was not simply ‘putting off’ the man, but He was making a very important statement whose meaning the Holy Spirit would later reveal to the church.

So what’s in it for the church here? What is God telling His people here?

There are Christians today who are using the Word of God to ‘claim’ worldly possessions, just like this man wanted to use Jesus to claim his ‘right’. There are they who claim it is their God-given ‘right’ as children of God to have this and that thing. They say, “I claim this and that in Jesus’ Name!”, – and they are referring to just a natural or worldly ‘right’. There are preachers who are teaching people that “It is your right as a child of God to have this and that!”

This heart condition of wanting the things of this world is a sin called covetousness, and the Bible equates it to idol worship (Col.3:5). In the Old Testament, this was the one sin that angered God above all. God’s first commandment to man is: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment” (Mat. 22:37-38).

There are people, infinitely more so today than in Jesus’ day, who want to use the Word of God as a ‘judge’ and a ‘divider’ of worldly possessions. A judge, as we just saw, grants rights to people. In the same way, people – Christians – want to use the Word of God to lay claim to certain ‘rights’ they feel they are entitled to as children of God. They use the Bible to ‘claim’ anything and everything they want.

I am referring here to the gospel of prosperity and other kindred gospels. These are carnal, worldly gospels.

But we have been called to serve God in Spirit and truth. I admire the Apostle Paul, who calls himself a “servant” of Jesus Christ. Paul was not a servant to this world.

In the final analysis, we have no rights to claim. On the contrary, we are called upon to lose our rights. That is what a revelation of the cross in our lives will teach us: to deny self, take up our cross and follow Christ.